I have been a Joel Osteen fan from 2009. That’s nearly 10 years of watching and reading books from this evangelical phenomenon from Houston, Texas.
I credit him with really helping me to fall in love with God. I found his sermons to be uplifting, encouraging, very measured and loving. He made God seem kind, whereas so many pastors that I had listened to made me fear God. Not respect him. Fear him.
So, as is to be expected, I read Joel’s books. A lot.
Just last week, I was in the bookstore shopping for a book for a friend when I spotted Blessed In The Darkness. I wasn’t looking for a book for me, but after standing there and reading a few paragraphs, I figured I’d buy a copy for myself.
I read up to page 135 when I reluctantly concluded the following: that Blessed In The Darknessfelt rushed, repetitive and was quite frankly, disappointing.
The book is designed to show you how God uses the darkness in life for good. Joel gives great examples of just how God has turned people’s lives around. In those instances where He hasn’t, Joel urges his readers to stay in faith for God is always looking at how we handle situations. I agree with him. It’s not that what he’s saying is untrue. It’s that it’s all been said before.
If you’re a regular Joel watcher like I am, you have heard most of these stories. There are common tropes. He often talks about when his daddy “went to be with the Lord”, when his mom had cancer, the trials and tribulations they encountered when trying to purchase the Compaq center for his church, etc.
We have heard these stories again and again and again and again. Quite frankly, I don’t know why someone doesn’t pull him aside and tell him that he needs new material. Make no mistake, those were huge, defining moments. But, Joel’s life didn’t stop when he got Lakewood a new home. It continues, up to this day and I’m sure he has seen way more dark moments. I was curious to see if he would address the hurricane scandal when he was accused of keeping the doors of his church shut to Texans in need.
I wanted to know how he handles the criticism that his sermons are watered down and too politically correct. Was there a time when he and his wife, Victoria thought they wouldn’t make it? Has he ever felt inadequate as a father? These are new themes that I, as a reader, and a fan would have loved to hear/read. That would keep the content fresh.
The book seemed like Joel lifted a few pages from previous books, threw in a couple new chapters and sat in a photo studio for a new cover shot.
I wanted to like this book a lot. Sadly, I was disappointed.
I think I am done with the Joel Osteen books for now. I take comfort it the fact that his words still resonate with me and for that, I thank him.